Photoshopping Gold Text with Channels

By Jeevendra Ranasinghe
June 6, 2010 from Typography

In my first tutorial on Photoshopping sparkling gold text, I used only layer styles to make the text look gold. I promised to churn out another tutorial on the same effect, but twice as realistic and awesome. So here we are. Without further ado let’s get to work.

Step 1

I started with a document of 750 x 500 pixel RGB document with a resolution of 150 px and a white background.

Step 2

I created some text using the font ‘Times New Roman’ at the size of 100 points. The color of the text does not matter.

Step 3

Click on the text layer thumbnail to make a selection of the text area.
When you have ‘running ants’ selection around your text area, turn off the text layer visibility by clicking off the eye icon next to the layer.
Make a new layer on top of the text layer.
Now let’s fill the selection by using a gradient. I am going to use the Gold gradient that I created in my previous gold text tutorial. Since all the relevant details are explained in that tutorial, I’m not going to delve on creating the gradient.

Now we fill the selected text area with the gold gradient we have. Click on the gradient tool and select the gold gradient. Also don’t forget to check that you’re using the Linear gradient and not anything else.
Now place the Gradient tool crosshair on top of the canvas and drag to the bottom of the canvas while pressing the Shift key. Since we had a selection of the text area on, the gradient will fill only the selection.

Step 4

Now comes the fun part. What we’ll be using is the Channels!
Since you did not deselect, the selection will be still active.
Go to the Channels palette. As we’re working on an RGB document, you will have four layer like things on the Channels palette, all which are selected. (I won’t go explaining about the channels or there workings today. But I’m planning to come up with a tutorial on channels in future).

Channels Palette… Yikes

With the selection active, press the ‘Save selection as channel’ button. Once you do that, you will see a new channel at the bottom of the channels stack. This will be automatically named as Alpha 1.

If you click on the Alpha 1 channel, visibility of the other channels will be turned off, leaving you with white text on a black background.

Step 5

Since your selection is active, you will see the running ants. Without deselecting, go to Edit » Stroke. Make a stroke of 3 px with the colour as Gray. Select the location as Inside. Leave the rest of the settings as they are and hit OK. Now you will have something like this.

Step 6

With your selection active, go to Filter » Blur » Gaussian blur. Type a radius of 4.0 pixels and hit OK.
Next press Ctrl + D to deselect and apply a Gaussian blur again, this time with a radius of 1 pixel. Now the text will look blurred.

Click on the RGB channel and the Alpha 1 channel visibility will be turned off automatically. As you can see nothing has changed. You may even wonder why go through the trouble of creating an extra channel. More fun is yet to come!

Step 7

Go back to Layers panel and click on the top most layer on the layer stack to ensure that you are back on the RGB channel. Now go to Filter » Render » Lighting Effects. Now you’ll be presented with a dialog box with numerous controls.

Adjust the controls according to the above diagram. You will see why we created the new channel here. Select the Alpha 1 as the Texture Channel and press OK. Now you will see that we have a very realistic looking gold text. Doesn’t that look amazing?

You can position the spot light to suit your taste by dragging the center point. By adjusting the four handles around the spotlight, you can adjust how the light falls on the text. You can also place multiple spotlights. As I always say experiment and see what appeals to your eye.

Step 8

Since everything is completed, you can stop here. Or you can some add more effects for a juicier look. Since I chose to do more for your benefit, let’s go to the original text layer, make it visible and apply some layer effects. I’m not going to delve long on this and provide you with screen shots since it will make this tut loooooong. But I will tell you what I applied.
Drop shadow : with default settings
Outer Glow : Blend mode – Hard light, Opacity – 16%, Color of the glow – F0CC4E, Spread – 7%, Size – 70 px, Range – 100%
Stroke : Size – 1 px, Position – Outside, Color – Black, Opacity – 14%

Layer styles applied to the original text layer...

The reason that we’re not applying this effect to the Original gold text is that, with the Lighting effects applied, it may have unexpected and ugly effects. Therefore, to be on the safe side, apply the effects to the text layer.
Note: If you have gone through my previous tuts, you may have noted that I always apply a small stroke around the text. This small stroke can make a huge difference by making the object of focus to stand out from the back ground. You can compare the images on step 7 and step 8 to discern my point.

Step 9

Fill your background with an appropriate color to make the text stand out. I used a dark green with a hint of grey in a circular gradient and added some noise to it for texture. And here’s what we have. A very realistic looking gold text with an eerie glow!

Compared to the previous method, you will see that the gold finish created by this method is more realistic. There are amazing things you can do with Channels. With proper manipulation, you can create realistic silver, chrome, bronze and many more effects. The key to success is experimenting. With that, the possibilities are endless.

I hope this tutorial helped you to learn something new. I will come up with another tutorial, which I am yet to decide on. As always, your comments are very welcome as they keep me motivated. Until next time, Ciao!

  • Airwalk Design

    A quick, basic tutorial, easy to remember as well :)

  • ArkyMark

    There are countless tutorials for “Gold Text” out there, but this is one of the better-looking ones I’ve seen. Very simple and realistic … I’m bookmarking THIS one!

  • 3D Models

    Wow Nice Basic Tutorials and great work thanks ha!

  • Deepesh Divakaran

    Nice Tuts… I did not know that Channels could make up to show 3D effect :) That was cool.

  • http://Website(optional) Bilal

    i didnt understand the select text layer thumbanail to make aunts:) this selction it shld b more modified tutorial

  • Mike

    Very Nice. This method is sure beats using the Layer Styles.

  • Jeevendra Ranasinghe

    Hi Bilal,

    I assume that you’re referring to step 5. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    In Photoshop, Selecting an object will activate a line of dashes that blink to show you the selection’s edge. This In Photoshop lingo, is called running or marching ants.

    When we need to select all the objects on a layer, the easiest way to do it is to click on the layer thumbnail while holding the Ctrl key.

    I appreciate you taking time to clarify this with me. In future I will do my best to avoid similar situations. I hope that I have clarified the matter in full. If not please feel free to ask again and I’m more than happy to assist you.

  • Jeevendra Ranasinghe

    Hi Deepesh,

    Thank you for your comment.

    The power of channels is awesome. It can be used to make variety of tasks very simple. One of them is masking.

    The sad thing is most people have cast aside this great feature. When teaching about Photoshop this sometimes goes unmentioned.

    If you’re interested in learning more on channels, offer some great video tutorials. If you mess around with some torrent sites, you’ll be able to download. ;)

    Thank you again!

  • Jeevendra Ranasinghe

    Thank you for your comment. I really appreciate it.

  • Jeevendra Ranasinghe

    Thank you for your nice comment. I’m happy that you like it.

  • Jeevendra Ranasinghe

    Thank you for your comment. I’m happy the you found this useful.

  • http://Website(optional) yomna

    thxxxxxxx……simple & real

  • Wency

    I don’t normally comment unless I want to but I will because of what you stated here:”I have no degrees or education in the graphic arts field. I’m self-taught in CG and I’d like to learn and share what I know with you. All your comments are very welcome.”
    I think you are awesome, talented and most specially, you have a good heart for sharing what you know. If more people like you populated the world, we’d be in a better place.

  • Russell DeMorte

    Hey, thanks for the awesome tutorial

    i linked to you guys @

  • Pingback: Estilos Tipográficos (tutoriales para PS) « Icreavisual

  • Elizraud

    Hi, I’ve tried several times and I just can’t get this to work. I’m using CS3 – is that the problem? Are the dimensions and settings accurate on this tutorial? I created a new file with a white background and the size you suggest. When I go over to the channels everything works as you predict (except the stroke and blur are not visible until I go back to the layers) until I click back on the RGB button. At that point the Alpha 1 channel does not automatically disappear but stays on as a pink background. When I manually click to remove it then the pink disappears and is replaced with the white background. When I continue to the layers and attempt to input the settings you recommend on the light effects I end up with a black preview screen. If I click ‘ok’ then I end up with dark brown letters on a white background.

    Any suggestions? Thanks!

  • essjay821

    not working for me either :( once i set the lighting effects nothing changes. i must be missing a step somewhere. i’ve tried applying the lighting effects to each layer. nothing is happening.

  • innookey

    can you please put a video tutorial up, STEP 3 will not come out right. I don’t know how to select the “text area” so there are RUNNING ANTS around it. PLEASE HELP SOON. need this for a huge project I’m working on this week.

  • Qmal

    Thank you for nice tutorial! :)

  • lahiru

    Plz do This Video tutorial…Plz it’s very helpful to me..